St. Louis Blues Expansion: A Look Back from Six to Twelve

NHL hockey in St. Louis, Missouri? The 1967 expansion brought top-level hockey to St. Louis, growing the NHL from six to twelve teams.
1970 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 3:  St. Louis Blues v Boston Bruins
1970 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 3: St. Louis Blues v Boston Bruins / B Bennett/GettyImages

Is St. Louis a hockey town? If you ask any St. Louis Blues fan, they will guarantee the city is.

With their team winning their first Cup in 2019, the faithful St. Louis Blues fans have never abandoned their team.

While hockey was previously present in Missouri and even in St. Louis, the NHL expansion from six to twelve teams brought the beloved Blues to St. Louis and created a history in professional sports that few cities could match.

Who were the six expansion teams?

California Seals
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota North Stars
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Louis Blues

The California Seals lasted about a decade, moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976. An eventual merger with the Minnesota North Stars ended their franchise in 1978.

The North Stars became the Dallas Stars in 1993.

The remaining four teams from the 1967 expansion stayed put and built their legacies.

It's pretty astonishing looking at the record of the five expansion teams that remain and their Stanley Cup success:

Los Angeles Kings: 3 appearances, 2 wins.
Dallas Stars (Minnesota North Stars): 5 appearances, 1 win.
Philadelphia Flyers: 8 appearances, 2 wins.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 6 appearances, 5 wins.
St. Louis Blues: 4 appearances, 1 win.

Both the original six and expanded twelve NHL teams have enjoyed success.

The league made the right decision with most of its moves in the 1967 expansion, building some of the most exciting fan bases in professional sports.

Wherever it is introduced, hockey tends to flourish. While some rare circumstances exist, like the fanbase in Phoenix, NHL hockey continues to grow in popularity and compete with the three other major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA).

Is St. Louis a Hockey Town?

You better believe it. St. Louis is home to the iconic St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. Both are two of the most respected franchises in professional sports.

Within the NFL, St. Louis also produced the championship St. Louis Rams and housed the now-Arizona Cardinals for several years.

St. Louis embodies the spirit of the Midwest and appreciates all major sports.

Let's not forget about Saint Louis University's NCAA basketball achievements and popularity.  

However, St. Louis became most closely associated with hockey and baseball, and fans wouldn't want it any other way.

Regarding hockey, Blues fans must credit the late James Norris Jr.

Norris, who owned an arena in St. Louis and was an owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, had a particular liking for the city and wanted to see hockey succeed throughout the region.

The proposal suggested that the St. Louis team could utilize Norris' arena, which the rest of the voters supported.

The Blues formed shortly after.

Yes, that's correct; the Chicago Blackhawks essentially made way for the St. Louis Blues.

To history buffs, it's akin to the English Empire birthing the American powerhouse. Today, Blues fans most likely dislike Chicago more than any other team, but technically, they helped form the Blues.

St. Louis has excelled and is a city that other North American towns can look to when building a successful franchise with passionate fans.